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Books & Culture's Book of the Week: The Difference Between Conservatives and Prolifers
No it's not that kind of a victory. In his first book, Slate political correspondent William Saletan doesn't argue that prolifers are well on their way to a sweeping victory in this next or any subsequent election—though, given a number of trends, that may well happen. Rather, the conservatives who should declare victory in the abortion wars are a different voting bloc, "prochoice conservatives."
Prochoice conservatives differ from prochoice liberals in a number of ways. They tend to be drawn from the middle or upper classes, they are predominantly white, and they don't necessarily believe in a woman's right to choose as such. Rather, their support for abortion rights is grounded in the belief that the government should not interfere in the affairs—sometimes literally—of the family. Unlike liberals, they don't believe government funding should go to abortions or family planning, and they aren't averse to curtailing abortion at the edges.
So: Parental consent laws are popular because they strengthen the authority of the family (particularly the father). Partial birth abortions are condemned as infanticide, reviled in poll after poll, and then passed again into law after the Supreme Court strikes down the statutes of 29 separate states. Welfare programs discourage the birth of new children (and, according to some studies, cause more abortions). Democrats swear fealty to Roe v. Wade as a matter of course, and Republicans hem and haw and then say, meekly, that the country is not ready for drastic change just yet. All of this happens with massive public support.
Moreover, veterans on both sides of the abortion fracas are clued into this. In the '80s, faced with massive repudiation at the ballot box, through a variety of prolife ...1